What to expect from Jazz Chisholm in MLB

September 1st, 2020

What to do when a Top 100 Prospect fails to ignite your offense? If you're the Marlins, you call up another.

Miami entered Tuesday in playoff position, tied for the fifth-best record in the National League despite having the Senior Circuit's sixth-worst offense. Outfielder Jesús Sánchez (No. 86 on the Top 100) had gone 1-for-25 in his first taste of the big leagues, so the Marlins sent him to their alternate camp and promoted shortstop Jazz Chisholm (No. 70).

Manager Don Mattingly indicated that Chisholm will get a chance to win a starting job at second base, where Miami has gotten a combined .266/.314/.303 line from since-traded Jonathan Villar, Eddy Alvarez, Logan Forsythe, Jon Berti and Isan Díaz. He also may spell Miguel Rojas occasionally at short.

One of two Bahamian shortstops of note in the 2015 international class, Chisholm signed with the Diamondbacks for $200,000 and has surpassed Lucius Fox (who landed a $6 million bonus from the Giants and is now with the Royals) as a prospect. Chisholm broke out by leading all Minor League shortstops with 25 homers and starring in the Arizona Fall League in 2018, then endured a rough encore. He batted just .204/.305/.427 as a 21-year-old in Double-A during the first four months of the 2019 season before Arizona traded him straight up for Zac Gallen, who quickly became the D-backs' best starter.

Chisholm rallied to hit .284/.383/.494 in 23 Double-A games following the deal, though he lost a chance to build on that momentum when the 2020 Minor League season got cancelled due to the coronavirus. He has spent the summer at the Marlins' alternate training site and spent a good deal of time learning second base.

Here's our breakdown of Chisholm's tools on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 represents big league average ability:

Hit (45): There's risk with Chisholm's bat because he's so aggressive at the plate, but if he hits he should become a star. He focuses too much on crushing the ball rather than making contact, and the result has been a .255 batting average with a 30 percent strikeout rate in four pro seasons. Those numbers dipped to career worsts of .220 and 32 percent a year ago, though he did provide some cause for optimism with a career-best 11 percent walk rate. He has hit just .211/.294/.297 against left-handers in full-season ball, so he'll have to make adjustments against same-side pitching as well.

Power (55): Few middle-infield prospects can match Chisholm's pop, the product of explosive bat speed and natural loft in his left-handed stroke. He has 56 homers in 315 pro games and went deep 21 times in 2019 despite struggling for much of the season. He has plenty of power to all fields that would translate even if he settles down and gets more selective and less pull-happy.

Run (55): Chisholm has solid speed and uses it well on the bases. He has succeeded on 80 percent of his stolen-base attempts and could be a 20-20 guy if he looks to swipe bags a bit more often.

Arm (55): Chisholm possesses solid arm strength, more than enough to handle shortstop. With his combination of athleticism and arm, he could play almost any position on the diamond.

Field (55): There's no question that Chisholm has all the ingredients (actions, range, hands, arm) to stick at shortstop for the long term. But his first chance in Miami apparently will come at second base, where he has one inning of game experience -- and that came in 2016. He has the athleticism to make it work but may need some time to become comfortable at the keystone. His tools and Minor League performance are similar to those of Javier Báez, who also learned second base on the fly in the big leagues.